(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) A decree likely handed down from new CNN chief Chris Licht barring on-air personalities from getting drunk while emceeing the network’s New Year’s Eve coverage did not keep morning host Don Lemon from failing at his one job for the evening.
Lemon was so busy jamming to legendary hip-hop DJ Mannie Fresh’s version of the Juvenile song “Back Dat Azz Up” that he missed the countdown ringing in the new year for those on Central Time, the Independent Journal Review reported.
CNN has redeemed itself by ringing in the new year in New Orleans with "Back That Azz Up" and not acknowledging the stroke of midnight in any way pic.twitter.com/tieCeHc4sA
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 1, 2023
It was unclear whether Lemon may have been nipping at the bottle off camera, as Times Square correspondent Anderson Cooper and his best ‘friend,’ Bravo host Andy Cohen.
Cooper, in particular, seemed wildly distracted during the broadcast but still managed to hit his cue at the stroke of midnight.
Lemon, on the other hand, continued tossing beads and baubles into the audience, even after having given a two-minute notice of the countdown.
In his defense, some said he may have been dealing with technical difficulties.
We got to see exactly what happens when a reporter’s IFB (audio connection to producer) goes out.@donlemon complained about it since at least 11:30, but nothing was done.
— C.J. LeMaster (@CJLeMaster) January 1, 2023
But the incident follows several past years when CNN’s New Year’s emcees maintained a less-than-professional demeanor after imbibing heavily.
Lemon and Cooper also had some embarrassing moments in the freewheeling on-air revelry.
Licht, who took over in 2022 after the downfall of network president Jeff Zucker as part of a sex scandal, announced that he intended to bring the notoriously biased channel back into the mainstream fold, cutting many of its top leftist personalities and exiling Lemon from his former primetime slot to the mornings.
Lemon’s alcohol problems were not contained to his on-air Bacchanalia. He faces ongoing legal issues stemming from a 2018 alleged sexual assault at a bar in the Hamptons.
The gay Lemon was accused of propositioning an off-duty bartender, Dustin Hice, after the latter had engaged in small talk with the TV star.
“[Lemon] put his hand down the front of his own shorts, and vigorously rubbed his genitalia, removed his hand and shoved his index and middle fingers into Plaintiff’s mustache and under Plaintiff’s nose,” according to the legal complaint filed by Hice.
“Lemon intensely pushed his fingers against Plaintiff’s face under Plaintiff’s nose, forcing Plaintiff’s head thrust backward as Defendant repeatedly asked Plaintiff ‘Do you like p—y or d–k?’ While saying this, Mr. Lemon continued to shove his fingers into Plaintiff’s face with aggression and hostility,” the suit added.
Hice called it part of a disturbing “pattern” of behavior, according to the New York Post.
Lemon has done little to gain the goodwill of conservatives, frequently launching bombastic, race-baiting attacks during his former primetime stint while brazenly denying his own biases.
His low-information hot-takes prompted former President Donald Trump, early in his presidency, to label Lemon the “dumbest man on television.”
President Trump on Don Lemon: “A small step for television, a giant step for mankind. Don Lemon, often called “the dumbest man on television” having made even Lebron James look smart…” 😂 pic.twitter.com/1JA8u6XLBV
— Julia 🇺🇸 (@Jules31415) September 20, 2022